Concretene, a concrete alternative developed by Nationwide Engineering Research and Development (NERD) with the Graphene Engineering Innovation Centre (GEIC), raises £8M (approximately €9M) in seed funding led by LocalGlobe.
The founders of Concretene will use the funds to accelerate its research and commercial development. Further, the funds will enable NERD to generate several proofs of Concretene’s potential on a commercial scale.
The investment will also help NERD to develop a new facility in ID Manchester – a new £1.5B (approximately €1.7B) innovation district, a joint venture between Bruntwood SciTech and The University of Manchester.
Lou Cordwell, Director of ID Manchester, says, “Over the next 15 years, we have the opportunity to design a whole new district of the City, focussed entirely on stimulating innovation. Bringing NERD’s research and production facility to ID Manchester and supporting the development of such a significant material discovery is an exciting first step.”
What is Concretene?
According to the scientists at the University of Manchester, Concretene is created by combining graphene and concrete to form a more robust, sustainable, and cost-effective replacement for the most-used building material – concrete.
Rob Hibberd, the co-founder of Concretene, says, “As professional civil engineers, we understand how the construction industry designs and uses concrete. From the outset, it was clear that Concretene had to be non-disruptive and align with existing codes and standards. Using revolutionary nanomaterial technology developed with our partners at the GEIC, we have created a brilliant new material product that is easy for the industry to adopt. With more than 1,000 tonnes poured into real-world projects and significant funding for the next stage of product development with our partners and stakeholders, we are looking forward to developing Concretene into a global brand.”
In general, Graphene is a two-dimensional material comprising a single layer of carbon atoms. It is exceedingly strong, light, and super-flexible and is the most conductive material for electricity and heat.
In Concretene, Graphene acts as both mechanical support and an active surface for different chemical reactions during the cement hydration and hardening process of concrete.
Consequently, Concretene can significantly cut the carbon impact of standard concrete while being stronger and more durable, says the scientists at The University of Manchester.
For example, Concretene deployed on real-world construction assignments has demonstrated increases in strength up to 30 to 50 per cent over control batches. Subsequently, lab tests have seen gains up to and above 100 per cent.
NERD is already working with potential customers, including Heathrow and Manchester Airport, Network Rail, Yorkshire Water, and the Environment Agency.
More than 50 clients across the transport, construction, and government sectors have signed up to use Concretene as part of ongoing projects.
According to scientists, Concretene has various benefits, including
- Reduces the amount of material needed
- Reduction in curing times
- Reduced shrinkage and cracking,
- Reduces the porosity of the concrete
Robin Klein, the co-founder of LocalGlobe, says, “Graphene offers huge potential across the industry, and with Concretene, the teams at Nationwide Engineering and GEIC have unlocked this potential in a way that could transform construction and physical infrastructure. Finding new technology to create a more sustainable world is just the kind of impact investment that matters so much to LocalGlobe, and we’re delighted to be joining Alex, Rob, and the wider team on bringing Concretene to the world.”